Nature has given humanity some of the most beautiful wonders in the world. When we think of all the incredible features of our vast planet Earth, it’s hard to keep track of the beauties Mother Nature has afforded us. With landmarks that have kept us in awe since the beginning of time like the Grand Canyon and Amazon Rainforest, nature is the gift that keeps on giving. But the reality is that for every spectacle she gives us, nature is capable of taking it away in the blink of an eye.

However, there is nothing more powerful and profoundly dominant than nature herself. With the capability to destroy cities and quite literally move the planet, we are all at the mercy of science on any given day. Our planet produces some of the strongest forces ever created through events such as hurricanes, volcano eruptions, tornados, earthquakes and so many more. Each of these are all created by the most perfect conditions at the perfect time, resulting in phenomena that we have no control over.

Sometimes we have to watch in awe and other times we have to run for cover and hope for the best when we are up against nature. Here are twenty intimidating photos showing how powerful and destructive Mother Nature can be!

20 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

The Indian Ocean earthquake is the third largest to ever be recorded in human history on the seismograph scale, registering a 9.2, devastating fourteen countries with Indonesia taking the brunt of the damage. It is nearly impossible to describe how powerful this event truly was because the magnitude is unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, making this the most catastrophic event in modern times.

In addition to being one of the most powerful quakes of all time, it also lasted nearly ten minutes which magnified the effects of the rupture under the Indian Ocean’s seabed, causing a tsunami on top of the earthquake.

This is when the damage truly made its mark, resulting in waves up to one hundred feet tall and costing the lives of nearly 230,000 people making it the largest loss of life event in the last century.

19 Frigid Quebec Ice Storm

Ice storms are fairly common in the coldest parts of the world, but sometimes they can turn deadly. The frigid temperatures pose an immediate threat which also brings slippery ice, hail, wind that can feel like a tornado, zero visibility and snow that can get several feet high, acting as an ominous barricade.

The power of these snow storms is often understated, but can be seen in this photo taken in Quebec during an ice storm in the late 1990’s when the winds and snow took down massive hundred-foot telephone and transformer towers with ease.

18 Mount St. Helens Eruption

In 1980, the infamous and breathtaking Mount St. Helens volcano finally erupted after lying dormant for a lifetime. Caused by a series of earthquakes that caused the largest landslide ever recorded which ultimately led to the volcano’s historic eruption. When Mount St. Helens finally exploded after months of intense gaseous buildup, it erupted in an 80,000-foot column of gas in the sky causing ash to be deposited into eleven neighboring US states.

The pure power and force of this event can be difficult to grasp, but it is seen in the $1.1 billion worth of damage it caused.

17 Powerful Avalanches

An avalanche is a naturally occurring event that can be triggered by a combination of variables including the weather and the mountain terrain conditions. A natural stimulus or one inflicted by humans can set the right (or wrong) series of events in motion, causing the snow to come tumbling down the mountainside at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, giving anything in its path little chance for survival.

With forces equivalent to several large-scale bombs, they are powerful enough to destroy large vehicles, trains and buildings with ease. In this image, the scope and size of the avalanche can be seen in its comparison to the highway adjacent to it.

16 Haunting Beauty of Twister and Lightning

In this beautiful, yet haunting image of a tornado touching down while a bolt of lightning lights up the nighttime sky side by side, its power can be felt. Tornados often forming in the midst of powerful thunderstorms can cause even stronger downpours and bring along thunder and lightning while they tear their paths of destruction through whatever lies ahead.

As we saw earlier, anything residing in the path of a tornado has very little chance of remaining intact following its short but powerful appearance.

15 The Immense Size of a Hurricane

Hurricanes have become so familiar to the masses because of the constant coverage they get through the media every summer that their impact and capability might be lost on us. Even though it may seem like they are becoming more and more common, the power of these storms is unimaginably great with wind speeds capable of exceeding 150 miles per hour.

What makes these events truly dangerous is the immense size of a hurricane which can easily cover an entire state, often visible from space with ease as can be seen in this monumental image from above. The winds over ocean waters make them even more dangerous as flooding is often the most damaging effect of the storms.

14 Apocalyptic Looking Dust Storm

Dust storms are a common occurrence in nature which can take place in any area where sand and loose dirt are present in copious amounts. This usually means deserts or regions that are near deserts. The phenomena are caused by strong winds which kick up dirt and sand particles and carry them long distances, depositing them after the wind settles down. While this is occurring the storm itself can look intimidating because of its grand size and dark appearance, limiting those in its path to low visibility.

In this eerie image, a sandstorm looms large over an Arizona town, engulfing everything in its path.

13 Tsunami over the Beaches of Hawaii

Tsunamis, caused by the smallest shifting of tectonic plates under the ocean waters, can be one of the most destructive forces of nature in existence. An earthquake that takes place at sea can often be far more dangerous than those on land because it can still knock down buildings, but also adds the waves of a tsunami which cause mass flooding and can destroy everything in its path through sheer force and volume.

In this stunning photo, the beaches of Hawaii brace themselves for a massive wave.

12 Ash Cloud of Kilauea Volcano

Hawaii is home to several of the world’s most active volcanos including Kilauea which recently erupted with ash. Although no damage was done to the surrounding areas, residents are always on edge when the volcano wakes up and becomes active. These events can sometimes be a sign of something much bigger in the near future. The ash cloud over the mountain stretches high into the sky reminiscent of an atomic bomb cloud, making for a scary image.

11 The Japan Earthquake of 2011

In this stunning aerial view, the aftermath of 2011’s earthquake in the Pacific Ocean which caused a tsunami can be seen. At first glance it may seem like a swamp or perhaps part of a harbor, but no, that's an immense amount of seawater flooding mainland Japan.

The day after Japan was hit by the powerful waves and trembles of the earthquake which took over 20,000 lives, relief efforts were underway in the town of Sendai which was nearly completely submerged in water with massive fires breaking out throughout the city because of damage to buildings and infrastructure.

10 Scorching California Wildfires

There has been a recent string of wildfires that have hit the West Coast of the United States, causing massive damage to its wooded forests. As can be seen in this image, wildfires can be truly haunting as the effects can be devastating. The most recent fire that raged through California caused nearly $1.7 billion in damages and resulted in nearly 1,100 homes being burned down.

The scope of these fires is hard to fathom as they can cover hundreds of thousands of acres, equivalent to the largest cities in the world.

9 Tornado Path’s Wake of Destruction

In this stunning aerial view of the aftermath of a tornado, the clear path it has cut through in this small Illinois town is evidence of its magnificent force. One of the most powerful events in all of nature, a tornado is capable of producing wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour and can reach over two miles in diameter. Luckily for us, these are on the extreme side of the natural phenomena and are a rare occurrence. Most twisters hit about 100 miles per hour and are several hundred feet in diameter, but still a force to be reckoned with.

Our saving grace when it comes to tornadoes is their relatively small scope when compared to nature’s other events which can wipe out entire cities, but those in the path of one are still in immediate danger.

8 Giant Guatemalan SinkHole

Although this disaster was a combination of both human and natural causes, there’s no denying that Mother Nature played a big role in this unbelievably massive sinkhole. Like something out of a movie, caused by faulty sewage pipes eroding, but spurred on by the earth’s ever moving and powerful ability to bring down anything made by man, the ground in this busy part of the Guatemala City quite literally fell from underneath.

The rains from the recent tropical storm in the city made matters worse, forming a sinkhole nearly 300 feet deep and 65 feet across, putting the lives of those in its immediate vicinity in serious danger.

7 NYC Under Water After Hurricane Sandy

Although the loss of life was not as high as many other hurricanes that have unfortunately taken thousands, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to the northeastern coast of the United States was catastrophic.

In this image above, parts of New York City’s mass transit subway system were completely submerged in water caused by the storm’s immense flooding. To truly grasp the severity of this photo, it is important to note that subway trains tracks run almost ten feet below the pedestrian platform and the water seen here is several feet above that area. Sandy completely halted the mass transit system, essentially crippling America’s largest city to a standstill for over a week.

6 New Orleans Left in Ruins by Hurricane Katrina

One of the few category five hurricanes to actually make landfall, as most hurricanes lose strength the closer they get to land, Hurricane Katrina is the most damaging storm to ever hit the United States.

Resulting in over $125 billion dollars in damages and nearly 2,000 lives, the city of New Orleans was left in ruins by Katrina, causing a mass exodus of its residents in the aftermath, displacing tens of thousands in the process. As can be seen in this photo, the city is underwater, which has left thousands of homes abandoned nearly a decade later.

5 Hurricane Rita Mass Exodus

After Hurricane Katrina decimated the city of New Orleans and took thousands of lives while leaving countless more without homes, the entire gulf coast of the United States took this as a serious warning for upcoming hurricanes.

The very next year, Hurricane Rita made its way through the Atlantic Ocean towards Houston, Texas, a city of nearly 4 million residents. The impending fear of a repeat of Katrina pushed nearly 1 million people into action, fleeing the city in one of the largest evacuations seen in modern history.

In this eerie photo, hundreds of thousands flee on Interstate 10 causing gridlock traffic that would last for over 24 hours while the other side of the road is nearly empty with no one looking to drive toward nature’s haunting storm.

4 Rain Monsoons in India

While the eyes of the world were on Texas as Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, there was an event that was just as great, if not more immense in India taking place. The rain monsoons that hit India yearly were especially powerful during the summer of 2017, causing flooding and landslides throughout the country on a scale that is hard to imagine.

The damages impacted a whopping 41 million people in the area, most of which reside in the vast city of Mumbai, ruining homes, businesses and buildings. The region was impacted severely, displacing millions for weeks while the flooding waters subsided. The image above shows a bridgeway almost entirely submerged in the flooding waters keeping people from commuting.

3 Canada's Raging Wildfires

Although the wooded forests of the West Coast United States are the areas of the world most impacted by wildfires, any region with vast greenery and wooded trees is susceptible to burning on a grand scale.

In this image, the aftermath of raging wildfires that covered the wilderness of Canada can be seen, with blackened trees, homes turned to ash and the glow from the blaze in the distance still a looming threat. Mass evacuations aren't unfamiliar to the residents of Canada, with Fort McMurray a notorious example (below).

2 Australian Fire Tornado

A natural phenomenon that is not known to most, but still very much present in hot climates in regions where wildfires tend to grow, fire tornados can be dangerously lethal.

These funnels of wind tend to start up when the perfect conditions of heat and wind mix, causing a whirl of air while carrying fire along with it, making these a haunting sight. Although not nearly as powerful or large as a standard tornado, these can still reach 150 feet in height and reach wind speeds of up to 100 miles per hour while heating up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 Cyclone Rips Through the City

When a tornado comes to mind, we so often think of rural areas and small towns being ripped to shreds. This is because the climate and conditions in these vast open spaces are ripe for a twister, but every once in a while Mother Nature defies the odds and has major cities set in her sights, as was the case in the capital city of the Philippines.

Downtown Manila, a large city with nearly 1.8 million people was in the path of a tornado putting its residents in immediate danger. Although there were no casualties, plenty of damage was caused to the buildings and electricity grid by the powerful event.